Turkey signed an agreement delineating its maritime boundaries with the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state on Tuesday paving the way Ankara to start its own offshore oil exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Turkish Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan announced the deal with the Turkish Cypriots, reported by the Turkish press as a “continental shelf agreement”. “We are protesting Greek Cypriots’ irresponsible, provocative and unilateral step,” Erdogan was quoted saying.
The hawkish Turkish leader also sent out a warning to international companies working with Cyprus, threatening a blanket ban on energy projects and possible sanctions, a report on Cyprus Mail said. “We want to warn international oil and natural gas companies working with the Greek Cypriots. The Turkish Energy Ministry has begun work to not accept these companies in the various energy projects in Turkey and also to have some sanctions,” the report quoted Erdogan as saying.
On a calmer note, the Turkish PM said Turkey would act wisely and not give ammunition “to those hoping for tension and crisis”.
Cyprus government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou accused Turkey of committing “yet another unlawful act” with an “illegal entity, the pseudostate, which has been condemned by UN resolutions”. Speaking from New York, he said: “With this violation, Turkey is trying to obstruct the Cyprus Republic from exercising a self-evident right, recognised by the whole of the international community.” While the international community calls on Turkey to respect international law, unfortunately, Turkey continues to violate it, he added.
Meanwhile US President, Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan, discussed the Cyprus issue during a meeting in New York. According to Senior director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, the US President expressed his country’s commitment to seeing through the efforts of the United Nations to achieve a resolution to the divided island. Obama and Erdogan also talked about a few additional matters, including the issue of reopening the School of Halki.